California: TetraCell Silicon Solar Cell Improves Efficiency, Wins R&D 100 Award

Project Overview
Positive Impact: Crystalline silicon PV cell architecture and manufacturing process increases efficiency, lowers costs. Received Innovation Award and 2013 R&D 100 Award.
Locations: California
Partners: TetraSun, Inc., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
EERE Investment: $3 million under 2009 Incubator program
Clean Energy Sector: Renewable electricity generationPDF

TetraSun, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, developed a novel crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell architecture and manufacturing process that achieves efficiencies exceeding 21% with costs comparable to conventional crystalline PV cells. This innovative PV technology reduces costs with a simplified process that replaces silver—a high-cost commodity used in traditional screen printed solar cells—with copper, which is much lower in cost and subject to less market-based price volatility. This technology also allows for high-volume production with greater yields using readily available manufacturing equipment. Through the SunShot Incubator program, TetraSun successfully met 21 deliverables, tripled the size of the company, and built a pilot manufacturing line for producing its innovative high-efficiency solar cells. On April 9, 2013, First Solar announced its plans to acquire TetraSun.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) focuses on achieving the goals of the SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.

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